Baricat Profile - (131039)

cook's profile


Home Town: Upstate, New York, USA
Living In: Southeast, Florida, USA
Member Since: Mar. 2000
Cooking Level: Professional
Cooking Interests: Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, Healthy, Vegetarian, Dessert, Gourmet
Hobbies: Quilting
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About this Cook
My husband and I are avid scuba enthusiasts, and we have been diving all over the world in our 25 years of scuba certification. I enjoy quilting when I'm not cooking. Six years ago, I shed some 112 pounds after an illness, but still enjoy cooking for my husband and grown kids. Our older child, a son, is an attorney, and our daughter is a PA (Physician Assistant, who recently blessed us with our first grandchild, the new love of our lives.). Cooking is my life-line. It keeps me connected. My family blessed me with a rich culinary heritage, and I began learning early. My mom went back to college for her masters in education when I was still in high school, so I cooked dinner for my family on many occasions. Food is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, there are few who don't experience a truly visceral enjoyment via great food. For me, few pleasures equal creating something that makes people moan with near-ecstasy!
My favorite things to cook
Anything Italian, as that's my family background. Love to bake - cakes, cookies, breads, pies. Love Oriental cuisine. Originally trained classically in France, then completed chef training at Johnson and Wales University (Providence, RI - the one that Emeril graduated from, although I graduated a couple of years after him) with a degree in Culinary Arts. I've worked as a chef for a private school, a caterer, culinary instructor, and a pastry chef. I then went into food journalism and wrote restaurant reviews for the newspaper and several magazines.
My favorite family cooking traditions
To Italian families, food is a source of joy and celebration. We dream about it, talk about it, anticipate it, savor it, share it. Home made pasta continues to be a staple, as are creamy risottos. My dad and I together developed an atypical barbecue sauce that never fails to draw raves. But, because of a promise I made my dad decades ago, I can't part with the recipe, except to those who share his (and my) bloodline! Speaking of bloodlines, neither of my kids caught the culinary bug. They'd rather come here and have mom make a meal for them. I will be forever grateful to my mother for instilling in my heart a love of all facets of baking, including breads, fruit pies, cakes and cookies. Christmas cookies are a major tradition here. In fact, of all the things I make, it has occurred to me over the years that everyone is universally into cookies. If the world concentrated on baking more cookies, we'd be one giant step closer to world peace.
My cooking triumphs
Beef Wellington, veal Prince Orloff, home made fruit sorbets and ice creams of all stripes (like mango, cranberry with red wine, kiwi, pomegranate (before anyone ever knew what it was!), vertical layer cake wrapped in white and bittersweet chocolate ribbons, and Marcel Desaulnier's (of The Trellis) Death By Chocolate, hands down the most labor-intensive (and murderously, artery-cloggingly scrumptious) dessert I ever made. Think days, not hours.
My cooking tragedies
One night as a brand new bride, about a week after returning from our honeymoon, I made my husband ocean perch for dinner, poached in white wine with fresh lemon and herbs. I was so excited about introducing him to the magic of French cuisine! When I lifted the lid of the pan, DH who had just come home from work, wrinkled his nose, made a godawful face, and said, "It smells like someone puked in here." I cried buckets. I never, EVER, made that recipe again (even though I thought it tasted fantastic!) obviously. Fortunately, I can't recall any more dinners in some 40 years of marriage that have elicited even a vaguely similar reaction.
Recipe Reviews 317 reviews
Tender Pan-Fried Chicken Breasts
We thought the ginger, garlic powder and tarragon were just overpowering. Reducing to one teaspoon (not tablespoon) of the ginger and tarragon would be more appropriate, and fresh garlic always contributes a superior flavor to its powdered counterpart. Additionally, just putting the chicken on a baking sheet and baking that in the oven ensures a resultant soggy bottom, as the pieces will sit in their own juices as they cook. Placing the chicken on a rack over the baking sheet will obviate that problem. The meat was moist. But as is, this did not result in a flavor that appeals to us, and the soggy bottoms compounded a less-than-successful dinner.

2 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Jun. 26, 2015
Chef John's Chicken Under a Brick
Great instructions for how to cook a spatchcocked bird under clay bricks. There is, however, one crucial piece of info that would appear to have been inadvertently omitted in the written recipe. Fortunately, it was included in the video. The temperature that the oven must be preheated to is 425 degrees. Other than that omission, everything else is spot-on. If you're unsure how to spatchcock your bird, the video covers that. It's helpful to see a demonstration if you've never done it before. Note that although it's possible to do with a meat cleaver and/or a pair of kitchen shears, I'd strongly recommend that you invest in a pair of poultry shears, which have the heft and blade to cut through chicken bones easily. Save yourself some frustration and get the right tool for the job. This technique is excellent for roasting, as in this recipe, or cooking on the grill. The chicken cooks in a fraction of the time. Actually, you can even cook your Thanksgiving turkey this way. It's fast, easy, moist and tender. As you can see, once you get those poultry shears, you'll make liberal use of them.

15 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Apr. 22, 2015
Chef John's Meatless Meatballs
Color me impressed! I was skeptical that these could be as good as the real deal, but I stand corrected. If the mushrooms are chopped finely in the food processor, even the texture is darned close. I suggest processing the mushrooms rather than trying to chop finely enough by hand, which is tedious work. I processed a half pound at a time, and in under 10 seconds of pulsing, they were nice and fine. After making according to the recipe exactly the first time, I made only one small change going forward. Since the object is to try to closely simulate a real meatball in flavor as well as texture, I started with the onion. Instead of adding it to the browned mushrooms, I began by carmelizing the onion in the olive oil. Then I proceeded with the recipe as written. This lends one more layer of meaty flavor and gives a nuanced complexity. I'll definitely make spaghetti and these puppies on Lenten Fridays, as well as "meatball" subs. If they come apart when added to the sauce, it's because the mushrooms were not cooked long enough before adding the rest of the ingredients. Cook until dry. Allowing a minimum of one hour for them to simmer in the sauce is necessary for the taste to meld and develop appropriately. The only way anyone would know they're a vegetarian alternative is the appearance, as real meatballs do not tend to be that dark on the inside. One other note, this recipe always yields 24 for me, (using a 2 Tb scoop) not 16, a fact that doesn't bother us at all!

5 users found this review helpful
Reviewed On: Apr. 22, 2015
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